Even though presented through dialog, this is still something of a cheap way of data-dumping onto the reader what’s probably ahead for what will be part three of the novel. All we know is the meeting in Tokyo and Aurie’s summon south. Her army? Colour? Jimmy? (remember him?) Long Island pirates? There are many things in flux here.
I suspect the next couple of installments will be General Hartmann dealing with them quickly. I know she’ll want her friend to go home and tell the Governing Council all she’s seen, to sway them more to the imperium’s side. One of the four legates will have be acting general but I still bet the army pulls way back to not look threatening in this new political situation. Much to think about.
Enjoy my content? Buy me a beer!
Colour watched her friend perch herself onto the edge of the cart, looking up and south. Once again, eyes dilated with a ring of golden fire. The parabolic dishes immediately began to mimic the movements of her face and eyes.
“My mind is fire…” Aurelia whispered but then, louder, “Colour? Steady me if I look to fall. Oh, satellite link established! Hello, Empress Faustina…”
To the legionaries around them, communication specialists, this was nothing out of the ordinary: one demi-human speaking mind-to-mind with another through an orbital link.
“And most of our fishing boats burn coal,” Colour said, sitting next to her friend with her left arm over Aurie’s shoulders. The princess’ mouth and face twitched now and again, perhaps reflecting part of her conversation. “How did I get caught up in all this?”
“Because I love you. Hush.” The General ordered
Is Togame dead? Aurelia asked the Empress.
Yes. The official announcement was only this morning but she passed last night. Reina, of all people, reached out to me. You understand why?
Of course. Stability. I’m looking at the Imperial Household Agency Notice now. So. She passed over her first child, her daughter, to name her first son as heir. Similar to you and Liz and Les?
Yes and no. Konata desired the throne but does not have Togame’s animal cunning. Two women in a row? There was no way their nation would tolerate that.
The son, Katsura, is fifty-six. His youngest son seems to be a friend of Ildi. Is this Katsura up to the task?
That is what I intend to go see.
Aurelia coughed and weaved a little on the cart. Colour steadied her.
Yes, my niece: it shall be a Gathering of Four Empires. I, Tsar Alexis, Habsburg Emperor Charles, and now Emperor Katsura. Our presences shall legitimize his succession.
And make sure he doesn’t have ideas about straying from our policies, Aurelia smiled with her mind.
And my duties? Shall I continue on my present course here with the NorFeds and Montreal? I cannot imagine this news amounting to much in the imperium.
In my imperium? Faustina mildly corrected her. No. Will this embolden the Texans to tougher negotiations with me? The Canadians to maybe take a swing at us or the Russians to their west? And that’s just our backyard. The Chinese are back to the Era of Warring States but they still have nukes.
And the Indians are just around the corner, Aurie agreed. Complicated.
Indeed. So, to answer your question, no. You are to report to me, via horseback – don’t want to look panicky – immediately. You and Edward shall be co-regents in my brief absence for the funeral and coronation.
The general’s body jerked so much that Colour moved her other hand onto Aurie’s chest.
Surprised you, did I? Faustina’s laughter felt like ice water down her niece’s spine. You will be responsible for foreign policy. Ed, domestic, except for Texas, because of his wife.
I… I’m flattered, Empress.
Pooh. You know I have my eye on you as my heir. See what you can do while I’m in Japan to impress me, my cute little niece! Faustina out.
Glad her right hand was there, Jansen just kept her friend’s body from rolling forward onto the packed earth of the legionary fort.
“That was interesting,” the princess managed, slowly shaking her head as she stood. “Centurion? Tell legate Foss to get word to the other three. I need them here at daybreak tomorrow. Their legions may stay where they are. For now.”
Consumed with curiosity as to what just happened, he trotted off toward the command tent at once.
“Friend Colour? Walk with me a bit before dinner. We must talk.”